|How we made the lists|
By Jeff Merron
Page 2 staff
The 10 most overrated athletes of all time. Talk about a hot-button topic.
But before you overheat about it anymore than you already have, let me point out some things that ought to be evident.
As I write in the intro to the list, all of these athletes were great. They were among the best of the best. Being on this list isn't a knock on the athletes, or their performances. Heck, if you don't have credentials that make you a legend or close to it, you don't get on this list in the first place.
In other words, Pete Rose was great. I'd want him on my ballclub. Same goes for Nolan Ryan and everyone else on the list.
But I think that we -- collectively, as sports fans -- think they were greater than they were. Some of us think they were the best-ever at what they did. That's how they're remembered. That's how they're rated. And the opinion here at ESPN.com is that these guys weren't the best-ever at what they did. Which is why this list is called "most overrated" and not "Guys who weren't great."
Incidentally, when we compiled this list, we used the same process we always use on big topics like this one. We brainstorm. We network. We collaborate. We come up with a working list of nominees. Then we research. Over the course of that process, we eliminate some of the nominees and add others. The list goes through several drafts until we're comfortable that we've made good cases for our choices. We did that here. We made good cases.
For example, Nolan Ryan. On several occasions in the past at ESPN.com, we've asked users to name the greatest pitcher of all time. Ryan, with his legacy of strikeouts and no-hitters, has won the poll. But he wasn't a greater pitcher than Tom Seaver or Steve Carlton, to name just two of his contemporaries. That's why we feel Ryan, who never won a Cy Young Award, is overrated.
As with most of these sorts of enterprises, you should think of this list as a starting point for your own discussions. After all, 10 is a very small number when you're considering all sports and all time. You could probably argue for 50 different athletes being on a list like this one, and make good cases for each of them. But it's a list of 10. Which means hard decisions.
And remember, it's supposed to be fun. Have a good time talking about it, or even arguing about it. Nothing we, or anybody else, writes about these athletes will take away from what they accomplished.
After all, they were great. They just weren't the greatest.